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Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program

Introduction

This interdisciplinary program leads to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in biomedical sciences. It recognizes the interrelatedness of the various traditional disciplines and seeks to educate scientists who are qualified to develop this potential. Classroom and laboratory instruction stresses experiences that span a broad spectrum of knowledge.

The program provides an integrated background in biological, physical, chemical, and computational disciplines in addition to an in-depth experience in research. Graduates are expected to be sufficiently flexible to participate in solving a broad range of complex biomedical problems.

The primary aim of the program is to prepare students for a research career. In-depth study is possible in a number of areas.

Admission

Entrance Requirements

Applicants for all but the Chemical and Structural Biomedical Sciences and the Applied Biomedical Computation concentrations should have:
1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution

2. An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale

3. One year of mathematics, including introductory calculus

4. One year of physics

5. One year of biology

6. Two years of chemistry, including an organic chemistry sequence

7. A minimum TOEFL score of 600/250 (international students)

8. Acceptable scores on the general GRE test

Applicants for the Chemical and Structural Biomedical Sciences concentration should have:

1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution

2. An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale

3. One year of mathematics, including introductory calculus

4. One year of physics

5. One year of biology OR a two-quarter survey course in biochemistry

6. One year of organic and one year of physical chemistry

7. A minimum TOEFL score of 600/250 (international students)

8. Acceptable scores on the general GRE test

Applicants for the Applied Biomedical Computation concentration should have:

1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution

2. An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale

3. One year of calculus

4. One year of physics

5. Two years of chemistry, including an organic chemistry sequence

6. A computer language course or demonstrated programming expertise, preferably in C++

7. A minimum TOEFL score of 600/250 (international students)

8. Acceptable scores on the general GRE test

Prospective students must submit one official transcript from each institution attended. Under special circumstances, deficiencies in prerequisites may be waived or corrective measures arranged by action of the Admissions Committee.

All application material should be submitted by March 1.

Degree Requirements

Students will master a series of core and advanced content courses, and complete at least two laboratory rotations. These serve as an interdisciplinary base for the development of dissertation research. The institution awards the degree when the student satisfactorily completes the required work.

The program first develops a reservoir of basic knowledge through an interdisciplinary core, consisting of a combination of biochemistry and molecular biology, cell biology, chemistry, human physiology, and intercellular communication. The advanced curriculum is organized into interdisciplinary areas of concentration.

The program requires students to take 18 credit hours of advanced courses and six seminars, pass a preliminary examination, and produce an acceptable dissertation based on original research.

Waiver of Program Requirements
Students may petition for exemption from all or part of the core curriculum. Petitions may also be submitted for waiver of credit for previous graduate courses taken in another accredited program. Course credit of up to 12 credit hours may be waived providing (a) the grade attained in each course is a B or above, (b) the course was taken within five years of the actual waiver, and (c) the course relates to the area of concentration chosen in this program. Petitions for obtaining credit for laboratory experiences may be made, subject to the same credit hour limitations and time constraints as for courses.

The program does not have a fixed time for the awarding of the Ph.D. degree. This depends on the rate of progress of the individual student, but averages five years. Graduate credit applied toward the doctoral degree is valid for only nine years from the date the student enters the program. Extenuating circumstances must be acceptable to the Academic Policies Committee of the Biomedical Sciences faculty, the program director, and the dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

A minimum of 76 credit hours toward the doctoral degree must be completed at Wright State University.

Dissertation
Each student chooses a faculty member who will guide and direct the dissertation research on a daily basis. In addition, a supervisory committee is formed to periodically review the student’s progress. The relationship between the student, the faculty advisor, and the committee is central to the program. The committee determines when the research may be considered complete and must approve the written dissertation, as well as the student’s public defense of it. The committee certifies to the program director the competency and achievement of the dissertation.

Grade Standards
Graduate students working toward the Doctor of Philosophy degree must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in all graduate courses and in all other graduate work that is assigned letter grades. Dissertation research will receive grades of progress made (M) or unsatisfactory (U) until the dissertation is accepted; these will then be converted to a pass/fail grade (P/U). A 3.0 GPA and the recommendation of the student’s supervisory committee and the program director are required for graduation.

Probation
Any student whose cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0 will be placed on probation. For students beyond Year I, failure to re-attain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 within the next 12 credit hours of course work will result in a recommendation for dismissal from the program.

A first-year student enrolled in the core curriculum must achieve an overall grade point average of at least 3.0 after completing Year I. A student who completes Year I with a GPA of less than 2.7 will be recommended to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies for dismissal from the program. Students with a GPA above 2.7 but below 3.0 must re-attain a 3.0 by the end of the next quarter (fall). Students who fail to attain a GPA of 3.0 by the end of fall quarter following Year I will be recommended for dismissal from the program. Students who receive a C in a core course during Year I may repeat the course while continuing advanced courses as determined by the program director. If a student repeats a core course, the grade received the second time will be used in calculating the student’s GPA.

Students who fail the preliminary examination at the end of the second year will either be dropped from the program or be allowed one reexamination, depending on the recommendation of the Examination Committee.

Matters pertaining to dismissal for non-academic matters are handled by the Office of Student Affairs.

Summary of Requirements
Listed below is a summary of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in biomedical sciences at Wright State University. Students must:

1. Complete core and advanced courses with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B)

2. Choose a dissertation director and a supervisory committee with the approval of the program director

3. Pass a preliminary examination

4. Prepare a written dissertation proposal

5. Accumulate a minimum of 150 didactic, laboratory, and research quarter hours

6. Conduct an acceptable original research problem, submit an approved written dissertation, and make a successful public defense

7. Be certified by the program director as having completed all requirements for the Ph.D. degree

8. Meet residency requirements

9. Be registered in the quarter in which the degree is conferred

10. Present one copy of the approved dissertation to the School of Graduate Studies and one copy to the BMS program office

11. Fulfill all requirements within nine years of entrance into the program

Students who have an M.D. degree or are in good standing in the preclinical curriculum of an accredited medical school may be exempted from the BMS core curriculum. Depending on the area of concentration and the recommendation of the dissertation director, a student may be exempted from 12 hours of advanced courses based on medical credit. Similarly, one of the two lab rotations may be exempted if a student has previously participated in a research project. Topics for the preliminary exam shall be specified by the supervisory committee. Students must accumulate a minimum of 100 quarter hours in the biomedical sciences. All other requirements for the Ph.D. in biomedical sciences are the same as listed previously.


Faculty

The program is a cooperative effort between the College of Science and Mathematics and the School of Medicine.

The program faculty at Wright State reside in a number of departments including anatomy and physiology; biochemistry and molecular biology; biological sciences; chemistry; community medicine; computer science and engineering; biomedical, industrial, and human factors engineering; family medicine; mathematics and statistics; medicine; pathology; pediatrics; pharmacology and toxicology; psychiatry; psychology; and surgery. In addition, the 67 faculty members who participate in the program include scientists from affiliated institutions including the Tri-Service Toxicology Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Kettering/Scott Magnetic Resonance Laboratory, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dayton.

Financial Assistance

Predoctoral assistantships are available to students on a competitive basis. Students awarded assistantship support are eligible for stipends and remission of tuition fees. There are no special forms to submit for financial assistance. Students interested in financial support should indicate their interest at the time of application.

Program Description

Areas of Concentration
Faculty research interests represent a broad spectrum of the biomedical sciences and are concentrated in the areas of specialization described in subsequent sections. Within each area of specialization, and across areas, there are extensive interactions and collaborations that enhance the interdisciplinary approaches and training opportunities available to students in the advanced curriculum and dissertation phases of the program. In the advanced curriculum, course requirements will be tailored to fit the needs of individual students according to their area of specialization. Through this series of lecture, laboratory, seminar, and independent study experiences, students will be trained to draw on a multidisciplinary background to attack current problems in the biomedical sciences.

Some of the most important aspects of biomedical research today concern the elucidation of the regulatory mechanisms of cellular and molecular processes and the genetic factors that determine the structural and functional differences between cells. These important areas are central to the teaching and research activities of faculty and students in the areas of molecular biology/biochemistry, cell biology and physiology, immunology, neuroscience, and chemical and structural biomedical sciences.

Molecular Biology/Biochemistry
This concentration is the forefront of our understanding of the basic mechanisms that govern living systems. In the molecular biology and biochemistry concentration, you will have access to the latest (molecular) techniques, equipment, and expertise to aid in your training as a research scientist. You will have the opportunity to contribute to advancing our understanding of DNA replication, repair and transcription, human molecular genetics, protein/enzyme and polynucleotide structure and function, molecular evolution, mechanisms of oncogenesis, retroviral recombination, and signal transduction mechanisms. You will train in a collaborative, collegial research environment. By aligning yourself with this area of concentration, you will maximize your exposure to the variety of molecular biological and biochemical approaches currently available. You will participate in departmental student research seminars, hear the most recent research from nationally acclaimed laboratories through departmental seminar programs, and participate in annual molecular biology retreats. Current and recent Ph.D. students in this track have published 36 papers and presented their work at over 40 international, national, and local meetings over the past five years.

Cell Biology and Physiology
Investigate intra- and inter-cellular processes for insights into critical processes of organs and organ systems. As a student in the cell biology and physiology concentration, you will be using state-of-the-art techniques to study both normal and abnormal cellular processes at the molecular, cellular, organ, and whole organism level. You can choose from research studying processes that are fundamental to our understanding, prevention, and eventual treatment of diseases of the cardiovascular system, skin, blood, kidneys, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and brain.

Specific research projects that you can become involved in and make major contributions to include membrane transport related to cell volume and ion regulation, cell differentiation, intracellular sorting and secretion of hormones, comparative aspects of kidney function, cellular growth control, intracellular signaling pathways, membrane channels, transporters and receptors: structure and function, neural control of respiration, effects of hyperoxia and hyperbaria on neural cell function, mitochondrial energy production, nuclear transport, brain edema, immunity, and wound healing.

Several interesting model systems are employed including hematopoietic progenitor cells, sheep red blood cells, bird kidney cells, crayfish gill cells, mammalian brain slices, and a variety of mammalian cells in culture. Many of the projects involve collaborations with faculty from other areas of concentration, including neuroscience, molecular biology/biochemistry and toxicology, creating a highly cooperative environment for your research.

In addition to your research, you will be involved in departmental seminars, journal clubs, and laboratory meetings. Students in this concentration will likely attend several national meetings to present their work. Students in this concentration have published over 30 papers and presented at numerous national and international meetings.

Immunology
Under the mentoring of faculty who are leaders in their field, graduate students in the immunology area of concentration have a large array of opportunities to conduct cutting-edge research relating to immunology and infection.

Many of the faculty have, or have had, federal (including NIH, NSF, EPA) and corporate grants to support their research. They regularly publish the results of their work in high quality journals.
The faculty presently have research interests in indoor allergies, basic and clinical immunology, retrovirology, immunotoxicology, viral pathogenicity, vaccine development, immunoparasitology of ectoparasites, microbial ecology, immune modulation, algal toxins, inflammatory and immune effector cell function, and cytokine signaling and apoptosis.

Neuroscience
Neuroscience is by definition an interdisciplinary enterprise, with research interests ranging from the genetic to the behavioral levels. The breadth of approaches that must be employed to understand brain function in health and disease encompasses electrophysiological, computational and biophysical methods, molecular biology and genomic technology, immunohistochemistry, and light and electron microscopic imaging techniques. The neuroscience laboratories associated with the BMS Ph.D. Program use these techniques in in vivo and in vitro studies at the molecular, cellular and systems levels.

The faculty groups involved in neuroscience research are highly interactive, as are their research students. Individual laboratories are well equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation, and the Center for Brain Research provides access to additional resources for student and faculty research, including imaging workstations and confocal and electron microscopy expertise. A unique facility for hyperbaric studies is also the focus of much research in this track.

Faculty from the participating departments and the Center for Brain Research sponsor exciting seminar series and regular national and international symposia that expose students to diverse research areas and facilitate the networking that is so valuable as students prepare for their postdoctoral careers. In addition, students in the neuroscience track are encouraged to attend and present at national meetings and in recent years have garnered several awards for the quality of their presentations at these meetings.

Research opportunities are available in several areas of interest including ion channel, ion transporter and neurotransmitter receptor expression and localization; development of synaptic connections; hyperbaric physiology, cardiovascular and respiratory control; behavioral and physiological manifestations of neuroendocrines; regulation of ion channel and receptor function; and pathophysiology of brain injury and toxicity.

Chemical and Structural Biomedical Sciences
Chemistry plays a pivotal role in the biomedical sciences, especially as the functional properties of biologically relevant molecules are encoded in their covalent and non-covalent structures. To understand such structure/function, as well as the molecular basis of drug action, scientists in this multidisciplinary area of concentration routinely employ cutting-edge techniques spanning the entire breadth of the chemical/biological interface. The complementary subspecialties of this area include: computational methods for molecular modeling and design, as well as establishing quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR); transient and steady state spectroscopic methods relevant to macro-molecules; biological magnetic resonance; novel technologies for the rapid-synthesis, chromatographic purification and spectroscopic analysis of organic molecules of pharmaceutical interest and biological macromolecules, and a molecular understanding of diverse metabolic processes.

Research opportunities are available in several areas of interest including ion channel, ion transporter, and neurotransmitter receptor expression and localization; development of synaptic connections; hyperbaric physiology, cardiovascular and respiratory control; neuroendocrinology; regulation of ion channel and receptor function; and cell volume.

The basic and clinical aspects of biomedical science described above have many points of overlap and convergence. Likewise, the fields of biomedical engineering, biomedical computation and toxicology, which are multidisciplinary in themselves, impact on and interact with the research objectives, techniques, and conceptual advances made in the foregoing areas. The interdisciplinary training obtained in the core curriculum and advanced course work prepares students well to contribute in these areas of specialization.

Medical Physics and Engineering
Confronting the increasing dependence of health care on sophisticated technology used in research, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, and prosthetic and other medical devices, biomedical engineering is the application of engineering principles and methods to the solution of problems in medical and biological areas. Current efforts in biomedical engineering include the development of medical and surgical instrumentation systems, the design of rehabilitative devices, the interfacing of complex systems in data collection and analysis, and the adaptation of computer technology to assist the health care industry.

Primary faculty interests include medical imaging, human factors engineering, rehabilitation engineering, biomechanics, biomaterials, medical instrumentation, mathematical modeling, and computer simulation.

Exercise and rehabilitation physiology involves interdepartmental cooperation. It has direct relevance to the patient populations who participate in development of instrumentation, visual performance, and aerospace systems applications.

Applied and Predictive Toxicology
Environmental toxicology works on resolving problems of compatibility between chemicals and life processes. Each and every day, we breathe, ingest, apply, and dispose of chemicals. The effects of these chemicals on our health and well-being, and on our environment, range from miraculous to disastrous. As our technology-driven culture continues to develop new chemicals for agricultural, medicinal, military, and industrial uses, we need to understand what the ecological, societal, and health risks/effects of these chemicals will be.

If these kinds of problems/issues interest you, then you should consider training in the area of environmental toxicology. You will find many opportunities to expand your knowledge and contribute to the advancement of this field among the faculty from three departments (Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Pharmacology and Toxicology) that are actively engaged in research addressing toxicological problems. The inherently interdisciplinary nature of this area utilizes the latest molecular, biological, chemical detection, and immunocytochemical techniques and applies them to a broad range of problems of immediate and long-term relevance.

Areas of faculty expertise include aquatic toxicology, dermal toxicology, ecotoxicology, environmental toxicology, immunotoxicology, risk assessment toxicogenomics, and stress/toxicant interactions.

State-of-the-art approaches currently employed include DNA and protein chip array analysis, laser scanning confocal microscopy, in vitro and in vivo monitoring of toxicant effects, HPLC and LC/MS based detection, and quantification of chemicals.

Epidemiology
Research related to changes in human growth and body composition with respect to risk factors for cardiovascular and other diseases are the focus of the human risk factors concentration. Data used in the human risk factors is part of the ongoing Fels Longitudinal Study. Decades before the university was founded, the Fels Foundation instituted a program tracking health and wellness of a large number of individuals over their lifetimes. The statistics are now maintained in the Department of Community Health of the Wright State University School of Medicine.

Research projects include genetic epidemiology; the development, implementation and validation of new methods for the study of body composition; new statistical methods and models; determination of causal relationships involving body composition, adipose tissue distribution, lifestyle, and risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Applied Biomedical Computation

Recent advances in structural biology, cell biology, molecular genetics, and computer sciences have transformed biological sciences into a discipline in which computation is an essential component. Computational methods allow researchers to rationally propose structures of complex molecules and systems, to quantitatively test hypotheses regarding multifaceted molecular, cellular, organismic, and population processes, and to organize, as well as test, relationships in vast and complex data sets. In this concentration, you will train with faculty from biologically-based and computationally-based departments whose research emphases range from refinement of computation methods to describing particular biological processes or structures. Modeling of macromolecular structures, biological processes and construction, as well as mining of large databases, are areas of emphasis within this concentration. In addition to BMS seminars and curriculum, students within this area of concentration will participate in a biological computation seminar program, in departmental seminar programs and in biological/biomedical research forums. Industry demand for professionals trained in biology and computation continues to increase as this exciting field revolutionizes the way in which biological macromolecules are studied. Graduates from the Applied Biomedical Computation concentration will be uniquely prepared for research careers at the dynamic interface between the biomedical and computational sciences.

Course of Study

Interdisciplinary Core: All except Chemical and Structural Biomedical Sciences and Applied Biomedical Computation (total number of credit hours)

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 8
Mammalian Cell Biology 4
Human Physiology 5
Intercellular Communication 4
Research Ethics 1
Introduction to Research 5
Laboratory Rotations (a minimum of two) 6-12
BMS Seminar 3
Core Seminar 2
Interdisciplinary Core: Chemical and Structural Biomedical Sciences Concentration Only (total number of credit hours)

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 8
Mammalian Cell Biology 4
Structural Organic 3
Instrumentation 3
Thermodynamics 3
Research Ethics 1
Introduction to Research 5
Laboratory Rotations (a minimum of two) 6-12
BMS Seminar 3
Core Seminar 2
Interdisciplinary Core: Concentration in Applied Biomedical Computation Only (total number of credit hours)

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 8
Mammalian Cell Biology 4
Fundamentals of Biological Computing and Modeling 5
Computational Tools and Strategies 4
Research Ethics 1
Introduction to Research 5
Laboratory Rotations (a minimum of two) 6-12
BMS Seminar 3
Core Seminar 2
Advanced Courses 18
Advanced Seminars (a minimum of two) 2-4
Dissertation Research-Credit hours arranged
Total (minimum requirement) 150

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Fax: (937) 775-2453
E-mail: wsugrad@wright.edu
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